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Suidhe Farm Cottages Cows enjoying the fresh air on Mull The Burg and Ben More from Suidhe Tobermory harbour Beautiful Mull sunset Ardalanish beach Duart Castle, Isle of Mull

Our cottages on Mull

Wildlife on Mull

How to find Suidhe Farm Cottages

Getting to Mull

Things to see and do on Mull

Suidhe

"A holiday on the Isle of Mull is perfect for exploring the spectacular wildlife Scotland has to offer"



Wildlife on Mull and Iona

Recent television programmes such as Springwatch have helped to raise awareness of some of the more spectacular sights to be seen on the island, such as Golden Eagle and White-Tailed Eagle; however, if you keep your eyes and ears open, there is far more to be seen as you travel around the varied habitats that the island offers.




Whatever time of year you choose to visit Mull, there is always plenty of wildlife to see. In winter, the bracken has died down to a deep red on the hills, and the days are short; on the other hand, the low, weak sunlight can produce spectacular lighting and beautiful sunsets, and you can expect to see wonderful sights such as hen harriers quartering the ground looking for prey, or otters hunting for food on a deserted beach. This is also the time to see some of the winter visitors to the island, such as fieldfare and redwing.




In spring the wild flowers start to bloom in profusion; in some of the rough pasture and moorland, it can seem as if the most common flowers are orchids. Sea pink grows and flowers amongst the rocks on the shoreline, flag iris in the boggy bits close to the shore and around the freshwater lochs, and buttercups and daisies compete with yellow rattle, grass of Parnassus and ragged robin in the wild flower meadows. This is also of course the time that ground nesting birds will be incubating their eggs and raising their young, so care needs to be taken to avoid disturbing them.




On Iona, and increasingly on Mull in recent years, corncrakes can be heard (but not so often seen); the meadow just below the St Columba Hotel on Iona is a good place to find corncrakes, and if you are lucky you may even see one while you are sitting in the hotel garden having lunch. House martins and swallows nest on most parts of the island; there are also sand martin nesting sites to be found. Along the shoreline and on the sea you will see the ubiquitous herons and oystercatchers, but also redshank, eider ducks, divers, and mergansers. If you take one of the boat trips out to the Treshnish Isles and Staffa, you can get a close-up view of the puffins in and around their nesting burrows.




The summer season brings the majority of the (human) visitors to the island; if you are keen on wild life spotting this may mean that you need to search out remoter places where there are fewer people around. With the longer hours of daylight, there is more scope for longer walks to the more rmote parts of the island – Carsaig arches and the Nun’s Cave, the fossil tree on the Burg, or the fossil leaf beds on Ardtun. Butterflies typical of the Scottish moorland can be seen in good numbers – Scotch argus, skippers, small tortoiseshells, as well as dragonflies and damsel flies when you are close to fresh water (which accounts for most of the island!). Look out also for day-flying moths, such as the oak eggar; if you don’t see the moth itself, you will likely come across their “woolly bear” caterpillars feeding on the heath land. Basking sharks are often spotted around the coastline, along with porpoises, dolphins, and the smaller whale species.




By far the most common bird of prey seen by visitors to the island is the buzzard; these are often mistakenly identified by visitors as golden eagles, and for that reason, some of the locals refer to them as “Bowman’s eagles” after the name of the company that runs the island’s tour buses. Buzzards are often seen perching on telegraph poles, lamp posts, and the tops of trees, from which they can spot prey in the undergrowth; in contrast, the nearest you are likely to come to a golden eagle is watching one soaring overhead. The white-tailed sea eagle nests in trees, and for that reason, they can often be seen in or near areas of woodland – at the right time of year you can watch them on their nest or feeding their chicks from the RSPB hide beside Loch Frisa. Details of how to find the hide are shown here: www.rspb.org.uk




Autumn brings the inevitable reds and oranges to the leaves and the bracken, and the purple heather flowering in late summer/early autumn can bring a lovely purple glow to the hillsides. Many species of fungi can be found in the fields woodland, some of which (such as chanterelles, field mushrooms, and horse mushrooms) are edible and good to eat. However, as always with fungi, if you are not absolutely sure what you have found, don’t be tempted to eat it, as there are also some poisonous species that can easily be mistaken for edible ones if you don’t know what to look for, and eating them could be the last mistake that you make. The red deer come down from the tops of the hills for the autumn rut, and you can hear the stags roaring as they compete for the attention of the does.





One of the most effective ways to get to know the wildlife on Mull is to take advantage of the many wildlife tours that are run by knowledgeable naturalists all year round; the most local of these is run by David Greenhalgh. Several other land-based tours are available; there are also sea tours and photographic tours to choose from. In Tobermory, there is a newly opened Marine Visitor Centre in the harbour building which is well worth visiting. If you take a tour early in your stay, then that can give you an idea of which areas of the island you want to return to later for a longer and closer look.

A useful resource for the ornithologist is the bird club’s “latest reports” website, where you can see what has been seen on the island in the last few weeks. Also mentioned on the website is the Isle of Mull bird report and species list, which can give you an idea of the wide range of bird species to be seen on the island.

If you want to get an idea of what the weather is like on the Ross of Mull, there is an on-line weather station and webcam based in Pennyghael, which can be seen on this webpage: www.marsport.org.uk




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